This eclectic city in northwestern North Carolina has the Smokies and the Blue Ridge to the west and the Outer Banks to the east. Its famed hyphen comes from the merger of two cities in 1913. Salem was settled in 1766 by serious-minded, Eastern European Moravians known for arts and culture. Upstart Winston, established in 1851, attracted entrepreneurs like tobacco titan R.J. Reynolds. Put the two together, and you have a city with a thriving arts community—it’s home to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the National Black Theatre Festival, and much more—and an inventive spirit. Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Texas Pete hot sauce were born here.
1. Swank Historic Hotel
The Kimpton Cardinal just opened downtown in the historic, R.J. Reynolds building, an Art Deco wonder that inspired the Empire State Building.
2. Paris—Southern Style
Led by executive chef Ed Witt, The Katharine Brasserie & Bar (adjacent to The Cardinal hotel) is part French and part Southern, serving a seasonal menu and creative cocktails.
3. The (Art) House That R.J. Built
The former home of tobacco king R.J. Reynolds and his wife, Katharine, is now Reynolda House Museum of American Art with a collection including masterpieces from the likes of Mary Cassatt, Frederic Church, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
4. Dining on “Millionaire’s Row”
Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar occupies one of the few remaining mansions on what once was Winston-Salem’s “Millionaire’s Row” (downtown’s 5th Street). Executive Chef Tim Grandinetti serves a seasonal menu featuring signature Southern dishes with a twist.
5. Cool Casual Eats
Head to Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro downtown for a Cuban or Mozelle’s Pimento Cheeseburger. Mary’s Gourmet Diner in the historic arts district serves fresh fare with a side of local art.
6. Classic Bakery
Dewey’s Bakery has been a Winston-Salem stalwart since 1930, with multiple locations. Even more Dewey’s spots pop up all over town in November and December.
7. Serious Chocolate
Black Mountain Chocolate on Trade Street uses heirloom, fair-trade cocoa beans to handcraft chocolate for rich drinks, desserts, and bonbons. Take a guided tour or just watch through the “Visible Factory.”
9. Vineyards & Wineries
Sample wines from North Carolina’s famed Yadkin Valley when you visit Sanders Ridge, Raffaldini Vineyards & Winery, or Childress Vineyards, created by NASCAR team owner Richard Childress—it’s the largest winery in the Yadkin Valley.
The Downtown Arts District Association has brought studios, galleries, shops, restaurants, bars, and more to the downtown area between 5th, 7th, and Trade Streets.